Poetry: Big Red

When I first wrote this, I intended it for Sammi’s weekender. She had set a  prescribed limit of 88 words for the prompt word downpour, “no more, no less.” I was 95 words over. While Sammi has loosened up some of her rules, not that one. So, let’s call this poem, “A Second, Longer Downpour.”


She was a hog, bitchin’ red and heavy,
a real dresser on our outings.
Rider down, I could not lift her load.
I never gave her a name.

Straight pipe loud till I fixed her,
but on road trips, she was
my sweet ride. No hyperbole to say
she hugged road from between my legs.

Headin’ up busy highway north of
Fort Walton Beach when Ma Nature
hawked a torrential loogie thunderstorm.
As we headed back south, we got soaked.

The downpour first felt cold in my crotch.
With soaked windshield, visor, and glasses
I couldn’t see shit. I knew they (cars)
could not see me, or us, maybe not each other.

With us in the middle and idiots in cages
driving seventy while blind, we finally got home.
I cut her motor and dropped her stand.
Lovingly I leaned her left, slid off, and stopped shaking.

Walked into my garage, stripped naked, and
dropped soaked biker cloths right there. Yolonda
asked, “What happened to you?” The storm had passed.
I look at her and said, “I think I wet my pants.”


Look both ways. See and be seen.
Mind the gaps. Mind everything riding your hog.

 

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 29)

Day 29 prompt: write a paean to your pet.


Hey, Cat

The mice at the vet’s
always made me feel guilty
when they’d ask me your name.
You were abandoned, neutered,
declawed, and basically fucked
by previous pin-headed possessors.
A bit of a nutless dick,
you bitched and whined
more than any dog, but you were
my cat. I was your human.
We understood each other and
those whiny-ass special
snowflake syndrome sufferers
of your name at the vet’s office
couldn’t believe we appreciated
each other on a level no man’s
best friend could understand.

Your name was Cat. You were The Cat!
Any Salem or Heathcliff worth knowing
would hang with the moniker, — Cat.
Clear, concise, and common.

You were my cat cuz
no one else wanted you. I did.
And you me. (Sort of.)
Rest in peace, Cat.


Look up, down, and both ways for cats and dogs.
Find and mind the gaps in every relationship.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 28)

Day 28 prompt: describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem.


Noreen got Married

Circa 1899, a row of ten two-story homes were built. On the second floor of the third house down from Madison Street, toward Washington, we had four bedrooms, and one bathroom like the other nine, faux-fronted; leaky, flat, black-tar roofed, wood construction row, or block homes, in local vernacular. Now townhomes go up for sale.

Mom & Dad had a front bedroom. Danny was ten and had the other. Down the hall Shirley, about 14, had a room to the right, next to the one small bathroom. The largest room was Noreen’s, who was twenty. I cribbed in my parent’s room.

The house to the left had 11 (9 kids, mostly girls). To the right, a multi-generational family group of about eight, depending on who died or committed suicide. We were a lucky few.

I got Danny’s room when Noreen married and moved three blocks away, and Danny moved to hers. I recall feeling special. My own room, one size up from the bathroom, but mine. And a bed. No crib.

My room had a window but no closet. A chest for things and a small brown metal cabinet. I recall the room larger than it is. I don’t recall the wallpaper. Dad used a steamer to remove it. He painted over bare plaster and lath walls with textured green or blue paint that scratched if you rubbed against it.

Each second-floor room had one lightbulb hanging down in the center with a pull-chain. The only wall switches were push-buttons in the hall stairway, dining room, and going down into the cold, wet, filthy cellar. Electricity was an afterthought.

Rooms had capped, stubbed, pipes sticking out of a wall from when gas was used for lighting. Stubs were convenient to hang things but were live gas lines.

Wood plank floors were covered with linoleum in designs and colors I forget, but all showed traces of wear and the plank flooring beneath. Each ended about a foot from walls.

My room was directly over our living room, or parlor as they liked to call it. It had a vent for heat from a nineteenth century, coal-fired furnace in the dirt-floored cellar.

An old, unused chimney stuck out from my west wall. That prevented my bed from being against the wall, thus leaving a gap on one side, a place to hide magazines and things I did not want Mom to see. They were not nudes or porn, but risqué enough for me as I recall. I never told the priest in confession about the hiding place or what I stashed there.

The street was close below my window and Packy’s saloon was only two houses up, making noise a constant when my window was open, only a bit less loud when not. After we got TV, I’d fall asleep listening to the music of Perry Mason or whatever they watched.

When Danny finally left for the Marines, I moved to the back bedroom – a rite of passage. It had a door to the outside used to sneak out at night until I got caught. But my first bedroom has many stories, some remembered, most forgotten, many denied. It was a big deal in my life, until it wasn’t.


Look both ways in houses with more past than future.
Mind the gaps for cold drafts and loose boards.

Sammi’s Weekender (154): Fabric


It was almost olive drab once,
now faded OD, but green,
the back says, Nothin’s Easy.
A well-worn tee from my days
running or trekking Government
Canyon, near San Antonio. It’s
not a canyon at all.

On the front you can make out
the drawing of the hills,
the name ends with, State
Natural Area
. The crew neck fabric
is tattered from use and washes.

It’s size large to hang loose,
but no longer does.
Do you think it shrunk?
Or have I expanded
my physical surroundings?

If I had a favorite tee,
this might be it,
but I don’t want others to feel
helly-jelly. It’s just a shirt.
Like the brown one I’m wearing now
from my second Cowtown Marathon
that says, opposite the front,
I’m Back. Cuz I was.


Look both ways for ties to tees and memories.
Mind the gaps or it’s the rag bin for sure.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 26)

Day 26 prompt: write a poem using responses to an Almanac Questionnaire of 23 questions as the basis. My 23 responses follow the poem. Additionally, I used the 80s song, Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears, for inspiration. A video of the younger Fears for Tears group also follows the poem. I selected this version for the sights as much as the sounds. There are several other good videos, including a late cover by LORDE, which is very (scary) different.


Welcome to my life
What’s done is done forever
Even my dreams are unreal reality
Rain, colors, pennies, and cats
Distant mountains, local culture, answers
With no questions, lovers and indecisions.
Do I want to rule the world?

Dragon music in the distance
Mixed with drums of tribal nuisance
But the path to take, I cannot decide,
Is beauty in the freedom of my pleasure?
I fear the pain that lasts forever.
Do you want to rule the world?

Is there life atop the steeple?
As walls and halls crumble, AC to DC?
Can I answer her questionnaire?
Welcome to mi vida loca, a happy
blessed by sad. Does anybody
Want to rule the world?

Married to my convolutions, may
Her memory Bern my conscience,
The alley of answers to many questions.
Can responsibility, freedom,
Or love rule the world?

The headline news is like this:
A virus. We’re all basically screwed.
But nothing is good or bad, and
Nothing lasts forever. Of this
I am certain: I do not want
To rule the world.


Look both ways to answer questions.
Mind the gaps.
One poem, twenty-three answers.

Almanac Questionnaire

Weather: I prefer rain to hot and dry.
Flora: Color variation is good. Green is a favorite.
Architecture: I like old church architecture, both inside and out.
Customs: I’ve never liked shaking hands, I don’t love everyone, and I hug only favorite people.
Mammals/reptiles/fish: I like dogs. I prefer cats. Both are pets. I respect nature, but it’s not safe.
Childhood dream: Hard to say, but I always thought something was not right. Unlimited candy?
Found on the Street: Pennies for luck, treasures no one wants but me.
Export: Wendell Berry prefers local economy. I understand why.
Graffiti: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Lover: Everyone should have at least one.
Conspiracy: There are some, but everything is not.
Dress: no ties, comfort before culture, some sweatpants are nicer than others.
Hometown memory: The distant Poconos.
Notable person: Mom.
Outside your window, you find: Texas
Today’s news headline: The NY Governor is an interesting person. The TX Lt Gov is not.
Scrap from a letter: I wish I still had the letter my father wrote to me.
Animal from a myth: Dragons
Story read to children at night: Once upon a time they lived happily ever after and other lies.
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find: the answer to the question.
You walk to the border and hear: music.
What you fear: mean and stupid in the same person.
Picture on your city’s postcard: Coal miners, cactus, and rivers.


NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 17)

Day 17 prompt: write a poem that features forgotten technology.


It’s For You

Privacy was not an issue, there simply was none.
I vaguely recall the telephone first being installed,
owned and operated by the telephone company (till the break up),
on a party line shared with neighbors about four houses over.

It sat on a round table in a short hallway near the unlocked front door,
next to our living room, from where all could listen to every word I said.
I could listen back. Wires were straight or twisted, and got in the way,
or we fumbled with them. You only had to spin-dial three or four numbers.

Learning how to dial was like tying your shoes or walking. You just learnt.
Our number was Valley – forty – eight-hundred, and I’ve known that
for as long as I could say my name, maybe longer, like our address.
The farthest room from the phone was my parent’s upstairs front bedroom.

First my friends would call, mostly Jimmy or Jack. Then later, my girlfriends.
Only one at a time so no one had to ask her who was calling. But they did.
We had to turn down the TV so Dad could hear, but that was because
he couldn’t hear. The sound was always too loud. Dad did not like phones.

As I recall, no one called Dad until my half-brother went into the Maine Corps.
Danny called Dad. And when Danny was in a car wreck, Dad was called.
Few call my smart phone. I, too, have trouble hearing. I’m like my Mom.
Socially, I am like Dad, too. When the phone rang, someone answered it.

I remember when the scams and telemarketing started. If you wanted to text,
you needed to put a stamp on it, but it was only a few pennies for a post card.
Mom called family on weekends, and when I moved out, so did I. Sundays.
Long distance cost extra and over three minutes even more. No more.


Look both ways for someone to answer the phone.
Mind the gaps on a party line.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 15)

Day 15 prompt: write a poem inspired by my favorite kind of music.


I Want a New Song

Boom! Old bods holding young hearts,
hot funk, cool punk, a shimmering light
and the smell of colitas up
from green river, in the age of jive
it’s got the same soul.

Play rock & roll at my memorial
and stand her in the doorway when
I join Buddy, Richie, Patsy,
and Jim. Let me hear Ricky
and John, a new wave dance craze.

By my own device, a prisoner here,
I may check out any time,
but I’ll never leave rock & roll.
Bury me in pair of pink sidewinders,
but first, save the last dance for me.

Dance with me, dream of me, dream on;
Dream On! Sing along with me, let music
take me away when it’s raining
and the players are playing,
but I’m still gunna live forever.

I can feel the rain. I’m Alive!
On a hippie trail, my head like a zombie,
stars fading, but I linger on.
I want a rock & roll song.
But there ain’t no use in pretending.


Look both ways, but music is present in my past.
Mind the gaps,
those spaces between the notes.